Friday, May 31, 2013

Aaaaaghhhhh. Not O.K..

Last week CBS' Sunday Morning presented a wonderful treatise on the expression "no problem". It seems everyone born after the 80's uses the expression in lieu of "you're welcome". I've long tried to be conscious of this and avoid the expression when I mean something entirely different, like "I'm happy to do this" or "Its not a challenge to do this" etc. But occasionally I slip up even so. I feel the same way about "O.K." Perhaps my aversion exceeds reason. When I was in the hospital last fall, both scared and short tempered, a nurse came in with a big needle and announced in a perfunctory monotone, "Now I'm going to give you a shot in your stomach, O.K.? I believe O.K. as she used it meant not "Do you agree?" but rather "I'm warning you the pain is coming..." Or did she mean "Do I have your permission?" Of course not. She was already swabbing my tummy with alcohol. Without hesitation I screeched, "No its NOT O.K." I proceeded to rant for at least two paragraphs about the misuse of that expression and ordered her never to use it again around me. Never ever. For her, English was a second language and all the time I was a patient there I don't think she ever perceived what I was talking about. But believe me. I meant it and the volume and tenor of my voice conveyed this. She probably shuddered every time the doctor changed orders for me, which was often. Some folks say this: "HO-Kaaa-yyyy????" Is that supposed to mean something different? Others clip it down so its a tiny dot on the verbal landscape, as waitresses taking orders letting the customer know either "I got your order" or "I think I understand how to inform the cook how you want your eggs" or "What you are asking is totally impossible, now just shut up." I give up. Yesterday as I was ambling in from my curb side mailbox I heard the distinctive call of a quail. I looked around to discover a pair of adult quail with a newly hatched family of ten. The babies were teeny fur balls, their color cleverly camouflaging them from the weeds and gravel. They were probably less than an inch and a quarter in size. Surely they were less than a week old. Later I noticed them skittering around my back yard. The most adorable creatures I can every remember seeing. I invited them to move right in and live in my fenced back yard where they would be very safe. I hope they do. That's O.K. with me.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Tribute to Matilija Poppies

I had intended to write about Memorial Day today but the tributes to veterans on the tv yesterday were so outstanding, so far exceeding my ability to express gratitude, that I decided to write about something closer at hand that gives me great reverance. Missing the big bank of "fried egg plants" which they are also known as, one of the first things I ordered at a local nursery here was a matilija poppy. It came over a month ago, and though its still alive, its looking resentful of transplanting, and has barely grown. This is a trait they are well known for, I've learned. A start from my bank in Oakland looked promising, but soon bit the dust. Yet a single plant on the bank there had spread to cover about eight feet, some of them seven feet high, and it was for me a daily summer ritual to gasp at the huge crepe like white flowers waving in the wind, framing the bay view: a joy to photograph and a joy to paint. Two paintings of these California native poppies were added somewhat reluctantly to my art bin for Open Studios last weekend. Reluctantly, because I didn't really want to part with them. I had painted them recently from photographs and from my imagination. Well, of course one sold the first day. Tut tut. I'm determined to paint more.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Art In Oakmont

Imagine! Tomorrow and Sunday I am one of 20 artists hosting Open Studios in my new home. This morning my housekeeper Kelly appeared with a helper. In four hours they transformed my house into an art gallery. I'm thrilled and looking forward to many guests to munch on persimmon cookies. Maybe I'll even sell one or two.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Naming Your Offspring

Decades ago when my good friends Barb and Dottie moved to Wasilla, Alaska (you could not see Alaska from the front of their Quonset Hut) to teach and homestead in the Matanuska Valley, they soon learned, to their dismay, that no one had status until they had shot their first moose. There was even a provision in a teacher's contract for "moose" day, so that if you shot a moose on the way to work you got a paid day off.  The story of how they achieved that is hilarious, but for another day.
Here in Oakmont I'm learning that residents are without status unless one has at least a couple of tomato plants in his/her garden. "Go to the nursery and get four tomatoes and two peppers," my gardener ordered last week.  I don't even eat peppers, but I complied, meekly, working seriously to be accepted as a person of worth.
When I got to King's Nursery I was blown away by the spectacle of roses on parade, but obediently bought only the veggies. However, the special of the week was something I could not resist: two thousand lady bugs for $4.99.  Once living on on Cathy Lane I purchased lady bugs but they disappeared within a day, so I vowed to get better results this time. I misted them softly with water, as instructed, chanting the whole time about their beauty, their voracious appetites, and in general my adoration of them. I tried to isolate some of the females (larger than the males) and proceeded to name twenty of them after my friends, starting with Arlene, then Beth, Claudia, Danielle, and so forth. I got stuck on Q, U, X and Z, but that was ok. I explained to the chosen ones that they were adopted and that I would nourish them with abundant aphids and protect them from my neighbor's insecticides, etc. In turn they needed to stay home for at least most of their short lifetime which is only about six weeks. They were released at the rising of the new moon on a dampened carpet of rose leaves amid the tasty blooms of my old roses which you saw in last week's blog.
They must have taken my lecture seriously because the next morning I found Mildred not on a rose bud but on the side of my teapot in the kitchen. I scolded her and carried her to the slow growing Ingrid Bergman.  That was three days ago. Can I find any lady bugs munching away today? Nary a one. Maybe they didn't like their names.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Something About Names

Growing up with a mother who loathed and rejected her name (Beatrice Blanche) and always went by Bunny, even to her daughters,why did she name her firstborn Lena Lorraine? "Because," she said, " just before Lorraine was born I went to a movie and the actress was named Lena and she was so beautiful..I never intended to have anyone call her that." Does that make any sense? It says something about her narcissism, me thinks. Lorraine so hated the Lena part, always being teased as Leapin' Lena, she had it changed on her high school graduation certificate to put an accent mark over the "e".  Still I always called her Lari. As she got older I think I was the only one, but she liked it. 

At my new book club up here, "Between the Covers" meeting for the third time yesterday, we reviewed Catherine the Great, which was my nomination. I had read it about a year ago and as a retired therapist, was fascinated with analyzing her character. Not many finished it. In fact, reading it for the second time in a year, I only got to p 267 of the 575 pages. All agreed she was a gifted and magnetic character, an enlightened autocrat, and a very very complicated woman who found complicated ways of getting her needs met. Catherine declared herself monarch and went on to lead Russia with an iron hand. She bore three children, all by different lovers. It was Voltaire who first named her Catherine the Great but she wrote she preferred Catherine II and begged to be called that.

Naturally we ignored the "Questions for Discussion" at the end of the book and instead talked about ourselves and our own names. Curiously there is another Bonnie in the group, besides myself. I explained that I was named by my father for a folk song, Bonnie Eloise, the Belle of the Mohawk Vale. Except for being teased in childhood by the song  My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, I have always enjoyed my name. Likewise the other Bonnie in the group (full name Bonnie Marie) liked her name,  however she was once a novice nun and the sisters felt Bonnie was a seductive or trashy name and made her change it to a male saint's name. That is until a time later when she pointed out that Bonnie meant pretty or good and that Marie was the same as Mary, hence her name meant blessed good Mary, and they allowed her to change it back. Amusing to us all. 

I just checked my back garden and note that my purchase two months ago of a dry root Ingrid Bergman rose is showing teeny tiny buds on its six inch stalks. So different than the giant deep red Ingrid in the middle of my Cathy Lane rose garden. I could hardly contain its enthusiasm. I guess I'm pleased this one survived the cold.  Come on, Ingrid. Live up to your name. 

PS This week marks my first six months at Oakmont. The old roses here aren't specimens but I pruned them almost to the ground in january
and they are back in full color as the photo shows.